7 Ways to Grow Your Online Business while Working a 9-5 - TheCollectiveMill.com

7 Ways to Grow Your Online Business While Working 9-5

Are you trying to grow your online business while working a full time job? Are you finding it hard to focus on your side hustle with all your other responsibilities?

Trying to grow your online business while working a 9 to 5 can be overwhelming. Realistically, you may not be able to quit your day job and jump in feet first. There’s bills to pay, groceries to by, and maybe a family that relies on you.

I worked full-time for four years while running my online store so I learned a lot about trying to be as productive as possible without burning out (and I wasn’t always successful at it!).

So I wanted to share what I learned with you so you can avoid some of the mistakes I made.

1. Carve Out Time Each Day to Work on Your Business

I’m not much of a morning person so I wasn’t able to get up hours before work to work on my business. So I usually spent the majority of my time working on it when I got home from work and sometimes on my lunch break.

But maybe you like getting up early or the mornings are the only time your household is quiet enough to get some work done. That may be the only time you can set aside without distractions or taking away from family time.

Figure out what time works best for you and make sure to schedule time blocks everyday to work on your online business.

7 Ways to Grow Your Online Business while Working a 9-5 - TheCollectiveMill.com

2. Set Goals

Since you don’t have a lot of time to work on your business, you need to be even more strategic with what you do. You need to focus only on the tasks that will generate revenue and build your brand.

In order to do so, you need to list out concrete goals. Some examples of concrete goals are: Get 1k Instagram followers by February, Get 200 new subscribers by June, or Make $10k in monthly revenue by April.

Whatever it is, make sure you quantify it and have a deadline for the goal. If it’s too vague like grow my email list, it’ll be a lot harder to measure. 

Once you’ve created your revenue generating goals, you can set smaller goals to obtain them. For example, with the Instagram followers, you can then set a goal to post once a day and use relevant hashtags. This will help increase your Instagram followers and hit your goal.

3. Use Productivity Techniques to Focus & Get More Done

Since you might only have a couple of hours each day to dedicate to your business, you need to make those hours count. You don’t want to power up your laptop, get distracted by Facebook and email and then wonder why you haven’t gotten anything done.

There’s a lot of different productivity techniques you can use. The one I use most frequently and highly recommend is the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the early 90’s. How it works is you set a specific amount of time (25 minutes is the standard), called a Pomodoro, where you focus and get as much of your work done in that period of time as possible without distractions. Then you take a short 5 minute break where you can get up, stretch, grab a cup of tea, etc. And then after the break is done, you get back to work for another Pomodoro.

There are apps and timers you can use like the Tomato Timer or Focus Booster.

For more information on the Pomodoro technique and other productivity methods, check out this article on Lifehacker.

7 Ways to Grow Your Online Business while Working a 9-5 - TheCollectiveMill.com

4. Get Enough Sleep

We live in a culture where getting only four hours of sleep is a badge of honor. But if you’re not getting enough sleep, you won’t be as productive and the quality of your work will suffer. You’ll also be more susceptible to getting sick, which will slow you down as well.

According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, continual lack of sleep leads to chronic diseases and long term effects such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and anxiety.

Arianna Huffington even wrote a book called the Sleep Revolution which talks about the global sleep crisis and how our culture needs to prioritize getting more sleep.

So make sure to get enough sleep each night. You can even reset with a 20 minute nap.

5. Practice Self-Care

This goes along with getting enough sleep. If you spend all of your time working and not getting enough rest or time off, you will burn out. You might think you won’t. You might think you have boundless amounts of energy especially in the beginning when you’re super excited about your new business.

But trust me, it will eventually catch up to you.

And it will come in the form of weird, inexplicable ailments, anxiety attacks, constant fatigue, sickness, being easily irritable and having a general negative outlook on life. I’ve experienced all of those.

If you experience full-on burn out, it can be hard to get out of it. So you need to make sure you’re practicing self-care regularly. Some things you can do:

  • Make sure you have at least one day a week where you don’t work
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Have a massage once a month or when you reach one of your goals
  • Get together with friends
  • Take a hot, relaxing bath

7 Ways to Grow Your Online Business while Working a 9-5 - TheCollectiveMill.com

6. Automate Business Processes

If you’re doing the same tasks over and over again, it can become very tedious and honestly, your time is better spent on other aspects of your business. Most of the redundant tasks can be automated or scheduled out.

For example, with my Amazon business, following up with customers and getting seller feedback and reviews was an essential part of selling on Amazon. And with my particular product, I also offered a free eBook that they would get emailed when they made a purchase.

It would have been really tedious and inefficient for me to email every single customer with their eBook and follow-up with them a few days later to make sure they got their product and to ask for feedback. So I used an automated email system called Feedback Genius. They synced up with my Amazon account so whenever a customer made a purchase, they would automatically get an email with the eBook. Then a few days later they would receive another email to see if they got their product. Then another one a few days after that to ask for feedback and a review.

Another way to automate is by scheduling your blog content, email marketing and social media. If you’re using any sort of blogging platform (my favorite is WordPress), you can schedule your posts out days or weeks in advance. Same with your email newsletters. You can schedule out emails or set up an autoresponder that automatically sends out a series of emails once someone signs up.

If you post on social media regularly, you can use a scheduling app like Buffer, Hootsuite, CoSchedule or Edgar. You can spend an hour or two scheduling and then all of your social media is done for the week.

7. Hire Extra Help or Enlist Help from Friends

When you start to grow your online business, there might be tasks you don’t like doing, aren’t very good at, or take away from marketing your business and growing it to where you want it to be. Some of them could include customer service emails, social media, website updates, or graphic design.

7 Ways to Grow Your Online Business while Working a 9-5 - TheCollectiveMill.com

For example, with the success of my invitation business came more customer service emails and time spent working on client proofs (a PDF file of their design for them to review). There was a lot of back and forth and although I loved communicating with my clients, it took up a lot of time. Especially when I needed to focus on creating new products and marketing my business. So I finally gave in and hired a Virtual Assistant (VA).

I started with a small package just to get my feet wet. But I’m so glad I did it, because not only was she able to communicate with my clients and do the proofing, she was also skilled in marketing so I had her do some blogging and email marketing as well. It really took a lot off of my plate!

But what if you’re just starting out and don’t really have the money to hire a VA? In that case, enlist the help of your spouse, partner, friends or family. Maybe you just opened your Etsy shop and all of the sudden it started booming during the Christmas season and you have way too many orders to handle by yourself. You could ask them to help out temporarily during the busier seasons with packing orders, customer service emails, etc.

The point is, don’t be afraid to ask for help or hire it out. You’re not going to be able to do everything yourself and grow a business sustainably. It’s just not possible no matter how much of a superman/woman you are!


As you can see, there are ways you can grow your online business while working full-time and avoiding burnout. Do you have any tips to share that have helped you grow your business while working a 9 to 5? I’d love to hear them.

Author Bio

Rebecca Clements is an eCommerce Marketing Strategist helping online shops get more customers using digital marketing strategies. She has started, grown and sold two eCommerce businesses and has an eCommerce Marketing Specialist certification from Digital Marketer. You can find more about her at http://www.bexcreative.com

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  1. Great post! I am currently blogging and have a 9 to 5 career. I completely agree that goal setting is important. Also giving yourself deadlines and keeping a realistic schedule help too.

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